There is no doubt that a divorce can be tough on children. Many often experience severe stress and anxiety after their parents separate. The effects of divorced parents can continue to trickle into other aspects of your child’s life, such as their education. Studies find that children of divorce are more likely to be held back a grade, suffer from ADD, and experience financial loss. So how does good co-parenting fit into all this?
As a parent, the stats above likely make your stomach turn. The good news is, your child’s life doesn’t have to be this way, even if you and their other biological parent are no longer together. The more you take care of your post-separation relationship with your ex, the easier things will be for the whole family.
Here are 8 tips for co-parenting after separation and how marriage courses can help you adjust to life after separation.
1. Have an outlet
If your former partner hurt you deeply or you can’t seem to stop arguing with one another, it can make communicating with them on a daily basis extremely frustrating. This is especially true if your separation is still recent.
Studies done on the impact of breakups on your mental health showed that the dissolution of a relationship often leads to a decline in life satisfaction and an increase in psychological distress.
Having an outlet can help you shake off some of the stress you are feeling about your family situation. Marriage courses can help you learn how to navigate the unfamiliar avenues of pre-divorce and learn how to make your life as co-parents successful.
2. Don’t badmouth each other
Many children find it difficult to listen to their parents arguing or hearing one parent badmouth the other. Make it your goal as ex-partners not speak badly of each other in front of your kids. You still want your kids to view you both as family, even if you are separated.
If you feel that you absolutely must let off some steam about your ex, make sure you’re ranting to your closest friends – not your kids. Research reveals that support from close friends and family post-divorce can actually lower psychological distress.
3. Don’t feel like you have to be friends
It is in the best interest of your children for you and your ex to strive to get along, but this doesn’t mean you have to be best friends.
A healthy friendship with your ex will make life a lot easier, but that doesn’t mean it’s always going to work out that way. When hurt feelings are still fresh, moving on from former frustrations or betrayals can feel nearly impossible.
You are teammates, allies in raising children, but you don’t have to be friends.
4. Communicate about the Kids
Speaking to your ex may be the last thing on your bucket list, but it’s important to keep the lines of communication open, especially regarding your children.
Work to get along with your ex, especially in front of your kids, but don’t feel like you have to share every single aspect of your lives together. In fact, if you aren’t talking about something related to your children or a huge life event that could affect your family situation (such as moving away for a new job), don’t feel like you have to share anything at all.
5. Share house rules
Even though you are now living separately, it’s important to keep consistency in your children’s lives. Kids need structure and routine. They thrive on it.
Make it your goal with your spouse to share the same house rules. This way, no matter which parents your children are visiting, they know they will have the same curfew, bedtime, morning routine, homework schedule, and daily chores.
Marriage courses can help you and your ex learn how to navigate your complicated new life and decide on rules, routines, discipline, and the standards in which your kids will be held to.
6. Look for ways to compromise
Co-parenting is going to challenge you. It’s going to make you agree to things that make you cringe, associate with people you’d rather not see again, and relive painful memories of your relationship-gone-sour. But remember you are doing this for the benefit of your children, not for yourself.
Online marriage courses, such as the one offered by Marriage.com, can help teach you and your ex about healthy compromise. These lessons also cover shared goals, learning compassion, communication strategies, intimacy, and traditions that shape and affect your family.
7. Stay positive
A separation is awful, hurtful, and sometimes even traumatizing for some ex-couples. But if you’re going to be successful co-parents, you must learn to put the negatives aside.
Research shows that parent outlook directly affects a child’s behavior. Therefore, if you and your spouse maintain a positive attitude about your separation, your child will have an easier time adjusting to their new way of life.
Try and stay positive. View every new interaction with your spouse as an opportunity to set a good example for your kids.
8. Spend time together as a family
Studies show that children have better emotional, physical, and academic well-being when their parents take care of their relationship. Even if you are separated or divorced, that doesn’t mean you can’t make family relationships a priority.
If your situation allows, look for ways to spend time together as a family. Have the occasional meal together, or schedule a weekly “family night” where you all play games or watch a movie as a unit. It may be awkward at first, but your children will benefit from the security that comes with having both parents in the same room.
Marriage courses are highly beneficial for families going through a separation or divorce. Parents do well to seek counselling either together or separately to work on any lingering issues post-separation. Parents should also maintain healthy communication about their children, keep a positive attitude, and look for ways to compromise. This will make the separation process easier for the entire family.
Are you recently divorced and new to co-parenting? What do you think about these co-parenting tips? Do leave a comment and share below.
Rachael Pace is a noted writer currently associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of her motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying about today’s evolving forms of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on all types of romantic connections. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.
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